On Saturday 19 June residents and visitors woke up to a spectacular sight, as a parade of colourful Elmer sculptures appeared across the town, marking the start of Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade. Using David McKee’s popular children’s character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, the Parade is Maidstone’s first-ever public art trail and is a collaboration between Heart of Kent Hospice, Wild in Art, Andersen Press and Official Presenting Partner Westerhill Homes.
The trail runs until Sunday 22 August and the organisers hope the uniquely decorated Elmers will deliver a ton of fun and laughter this summer and attract local residents and visitors from far and wide to discover, and re-discover the town, making art accessible to all. Each Elmer is sponsored by a local business or organisation, making the trail deeply rooted in the local community. Visitors and residents can explore the town centre, parks and river path while following the Parade to discover all 51 bold and eye-catching Elmer sculptures, all beautifully designed by 41 local and national artists. All the Elmers showcase a range of artistic talent, with all forms of art from illustration, graphics, fine art to graffiti, mixed media and sculpture, being celebrated. The talented artists come from diverse backgrounds and used a variety of creative processes in their work. It’s easy for everyone to take part in the trail as the location of each Elmer is shown via a beautifully hand-illustrated map or via the free Parade app (available to download from the App Store or Google Play). Each Elmer has a unique app code that reveals some exciting rewards to download. Maps can be picked up from Elmer HQ in The Mall, Fremlin’s Elephant House in Fremlin Walk and all 14 Heart of Kent Hospice charity shops, and at many other local businesses.
The Parade also includes Elmer’s Learning Herd which is made up of 30 small Elmer sculptures, each designed and painted by local schools and youth organisations from Maidstone and the surrounding areas; plus, one special Elmer that has been designed especially for Heart of Kent Hospice to coincide with a book published by their Hospice Social Worker, written specifically for children dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Ann-Marie Kelly, Income Generation Director at Heart of Kent Hospice said: ‘These are no ordinary elephants – they’re on an important mission to raise awareness and funds for Heart of Kent Hospice as we celebrate our 30th anniversary of providing specialist advice, support and outstanding care for people living with a terminal illness.
“We hope as many people as possible are able to enjoy the free and fully accessible trail across the summer and enjoy exploring and making happy memories. Later this year (Friday 3 September to Sunday 5 September 2021), people can see all the Elmer sculptures under one roof at the Farewell Weekend at Lockmeadow, Maidstone. And on Thursday 9 September, the large Elmer sculptures will go under the spotlight at the spectacular Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade Auction where people can bid on all 51 of the large Elmers to raise money for Heart of Kent Hospice. All the proceeds from the auction will help the Hospice to continue to provide outstanding Hospice care to local families.”